Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How To FAIL At Being a Comic Book Artist

This post isn't artwork, but it is artwork related. How To FAIL At Being A Comic Book Artist. I always thought that would be a great title for a "How To" book ever since I very first seen "How To Self-Publish Your Own Comic Book" by Tony Caputo. It's a decent enough book. A lot of the advice in it is great. Some of it isn't. It covers the basics well enough but isn't even close to having all of the answers to making comics.

Never has a time to use that title for a "How To" been more proper than now.

I must say, this post is not only about advice for pitfalls one should avoid, it is also a statement of self-defense in an odd sort of way directed toward a peer of mine.

I used to know this person that wanted to be a comic book artist. He would talk to me constantly about the medium and his love for it, and it was one that I shared. We had met in an art class and before we knew it we had decided to draw comic books together. We were going to be unstoppable. It was our goal to take the comic book industry by storm and change it forever.

Our foray into the world of four color panels had begun shortly after high school had ended for me, when this friend had offered to help me work on an old concept for a comic book that I had developed. I had been developing comic book characters and concepts since junior high school when I was 12 years old so at this point (e.g. age, maturity level) I didn't feel as if I needed help at the time. But I had really liked the idea of collaborating with someone and never had and before I knew it he had not only helped me flesh out ideas for my concept, but we had also developed several concepts together.

As things go with this sort of relationship, eventually one person feels as if they are putting in all of the work and that the other person isn't. It happens all too often in comics and is a large reason why I now work primarily alone on anything related to comics. I love working for myself and I don't mind working for (under) someone else mind you, but in one of those 50/50 relationships, it's never truly 50/50. There is always someone putting in 51% or more and there is always someone putting in 49% or less. And that's fine. To an extent. At some point though the difference between when a person is simply doing less and when a person is doing absolutely nothing at all becomes pretty obvious. It's good to know when that point is.

We eventually split ways in a business sense but we had been friends for a very long time and neither of us wanted to see our friendship soured. It had soured. We both knew it inside I think, but I also think we both cared about our friendship enough to try to work past it. Not working with each other as much did put a strain on our friendship. Eventually we split ways permanently after an ugly argument. I had grown tired of his nonsense and he had grown tired of mine.

Since then I have worked on comic book projects both solo, receiving more success than I ever have in my career, and I have worked in a freelance capacity several times for many others and developed all new friendships. I also decided to go back to school for a BFA in Art Education. As a result my work has improved by leaps and bounds and my views on artwork, more specifically comic books as an art medium and what they mean to the art world, have changed and evolved quite a bit.

How To Fail At Being a Comic Book Artist.

By claiming you are one when you aren't one. I was curious about what my old friend might be up to. He and I had been friends for a very long time and I would be a liar if I said he never crossed my mind every few years or so.

So I Googled him. Now I'm not going to say his name here as he was a very close friend of mine for a very long time, and while we may not be friends anymore I know there is no need to publically embarrass him. He's doing a good enough job on his own apparently and is showing us all how to FAIL at being a comic book artist. He has set up a YouTube account where he claims he is a comic book artist that has worked for Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and several others. This is not true. He hasn't worked for ANY of those companies. In fact, myself and another mutual friend of ours are the ONLY people to ever hire him to do a job in comics (that ever actually seen print at least.)

When I had seen who he was listing as his former employers I was astounded. I looked more for him on the internet and found a blog he had created. The top banner isn't his work and is the work of another mutual friend of ours.  Other than a few sketches cluttering it here and there it is almost nothing but him writing about his daily life. Sketches every now and again can be seen. They truly disappoint me as no improvement has been made in his skill in all of these years. He even tries to tell everyone what is or isn't an artist, especially regarding digital inking (I could list hundreds of people that are legitimate artists that digitally ink) and using lightboxing techniques for sketches, breakdowns, and thumbnails that you draw and/or photos that you have shot (famed artists such as Alex Ross, Tim Bradstreet, and many other well known artists use lightbox methods. It's specifically why they are sold in art stores.)

What is the point here?

You are going to FAIL as a comic book artist every single time you try if you are never actually making any comic book art. (That means more than drawing pin-ups by the way.) You are going to FAIL as a comic book creator if you are never making comics. You are going to FAIL if you're using other people's art on your blog rather than your own. Most importantly, you are going to FAIL as an artist if you are never creating art. If all you're doing about it is talking about it, or giving bad advice that no actual PROFESSIONAL would repeat...that is all you will ever do.

My friend claims he is now attending an art school, and I don't know if that's true or not but I know  considering who he claims are his former employers are I wouldn't trust him on anything he says.

So how do you fail at creating comics, or at making art, or at developing an idea into something that can be experienced by all? By not doing it. By not doing it and claiming that you do when in reality you do not. Because if you can't deliver, you WILL fail. I guarantee it.

(funny side note: That friend of mine...he was the one who first showed me Tony Caputo's How To Self-Publish Your Own Comic Book...weird.)


TEN WAYS TO FAIL AT CREATING COMICS

10.
Bad Resolution. Make sure all of your art files are at least 300 dpi, otherwise every single thing will come out blurry after it's printed. This may sound like a no-brainer for those already working in comics, but you would be amazed at how many of those aspiring comic book creators don't know this.

9. No content. I can't count how many really cool ideas I've seen people come up with that have never seen the light of day...all because the person spent their time promoting it and talking about it and updating social media about it but never spent their time developing the concept into something tangible.

8. - 3. Screw numbers 8 through 3. We're going to skip to number 2. I'm getting tired of writing and have my own artwork to get to...

2. When it's time to sell your book, don't limit yourself to just one source. Their are multiple venues for distribution and sales. Think outside of the box. You won't necessarily fail if you don't do this but your chances of success are better. More eyeballs means more attention to your work.

1. The biggest way you can fail at being a comic book artist or writer or letterer or colorist or editor or publisher or whatever position in comics you can think of, is by giving up. It's clearly what my friend has done and I know of so many others that have done the same. They aren't getting work or whatever so they just quit. YOU ARE A CREATIVE PERSON. You have to be willing to use that creativity in other fields and mediums to fill in the gaps between comic book projects. If you truly want success in a creative medium you have to make a conscious decision to not limit yourself to just one medium but to explore other ideas and alternatives. That creative exploration is what makes comic books so unique in the first place.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pop Icons: Generations

I thought I would take a shot at rendering three of pop music's most influential women from three separate generations. Each piece is on 10 x 6.5 Bristol Board and are drawn with a 2H lead pencil, a Tuff Stuff eraser stick, Zig inking pens (sizes 2 and 8), and Copic markers.

by Craig DeBoard
 
"Madonna" by Craig DeBoard
"Britney" by Craig DeBoard


"Miley" by Craig DeBoard